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Final rule sets minimum bar for securing contractor IT systems

The government finalized a rule this week that puts some basic requirements on contractors to protect government information that resides on their internal systems.

The rule, known as Basic Safeguarding of Contractor Information Systems, covers data that is either given to the contractor (other than public information) or is produced by the contractor for the government.

The final rule clarifies several points that drew complaints during the draft.

The biggest change is that the rule applies to the security of the information systems and not the data itself. The government also added the word “covered” to “contractor information systems” to make it clear that the policy applies only to information systems that contain federal contract information.

There had been complaints that without the word “covered,” all of a company’s IT systems would fall under the rule, even if the company had just one federal contract.

The rule also adopts NIST SP 800-171, which describes the safeguards needed for transmitting electronic data.

Some of the security steps the government is requiring includes:

  • Limiting access to those who are authorized users
  • Limiting access to permitted transactions and functions.
  • Authenticate the identity of users before granting them access.
  • Limit physical access to the systems.
  • Maintain audit logs of physical access.
  • Identify, report and correct systems flaws in a timely manner.

The government described these requirements as “basic safeguarding requirements.” In other words, these are the minimum things you need to do.

The final rule takes effect June 15.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on May 18, 2016 at 12:48 PM


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